Woah - it sounds like the 'relentless' darkness of Don Draper has been tough for Mad Men's Jon Hamm

As Mad Men returns to our screens for its final season (sob!), leading star Jon Hamm is preparing to say goodbye to his legendary alter ego Don Draper.

But it sounds like the time is right for Jon, 44, to part ways with Don. Playing the alcoholic, womanising advertising executive for eight years hasn’t always been easy for the actor and it has often left him in a bad frame of mind.

‘Playing this guy does not come without its own difficulties,’ he explains. ‘It’s not fun to live in this guy’s headspace year after year.

‘And [showrunner] Matt [Weiner] will tell you, the darkness in Don has not abated, it’s gotten worse year after year. It’s relentless.

‘And it can be hard on you as a person. I love coming to work; I love the people I work with. But it’s been rough.’

It comes after Jon checked himself into rehab in late February to seek treatment for alcohol abuse, just as promotion for the new series of Mad Men was beginning.

Tellingly – in an interview for Variety which took place in early February, pre-rehab – Jon has referenced the blurred lines between himself and Don regarding booze.

‘People ask, “What’s the difference between you and Don?” Look, I drink, I get drunk. I’m not immune to that,’ he confesses.

Escaping from Don has clearly proved challenging at times for the heartthrob actor, but in day-to-day life he thinks he’s much more light-hearted than the TV character he has portrayed so well over the years.

‘I think I’m a pretty regular person thrust into incredibly irregular circumstances,’ says Jon. ‘It’s weird to get super-famous, super-fast. It’s really hard.

‘In the grand scheme of things, it’s not the hardest thing in the world. It’s not performing heart surgery or breaking big rocks into little rocks. [But] it takes a lot out of you emotionally.’

With filming on Mad Men complete and his rehab stint behind him, it sounds like Jon is looking forward to what the future brings – beginning with more comedy roles.

Don Draper has been incredibly fulfilling to me as an actor, as an artist,’ he admits. ‘But to do it again and again doesn’t appeal to me.’

Anna Francis